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Interpretation Response #15-0163 ([MPS Group] [Ms. Cynthia Walczak])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: MPS Group

Individual Name: Ms. Cynthia Walczak

Location State: MI Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

March 17, 2016

Cynthia M. Walczak, CHMM, PE
MPS Group
38755 Hills Tech Drive
Farmington Hills, MI 48331

Reference No. 15-0163

Dear Ms. Walczak:

This responds to your letter of July 31, 2015 and subsequent telephone conversations with a member of my staff requesting clarification on lithium battery shipments under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180). Your questions are paraphrased and answered as follows:

Q1. When shipped by ground for purposes of disposal or recycling in conformance with § 173.185(d), may smaller lithium ion batteries and smaller lithium metal batteries (as specified by the size limits in § 173.185(c)(1)(i) and § 173.185(c)(1)(ii), respectively) be shipped in the same package?

A1. Yes. Hazardous materials may be packaged together with other hazardous and non-hazardous materials as prescribed in §§ 173.21 and 173.24(e)(4) of the HMR. In doing so, it is the shipper’s responsibility to determine whether the mixing of a material in the same packaging, freight container, or overpack with another material is likely to cause dangerous conditions, such as a dangerous evolution of heat or flammable vapors. Please note the gross weight limitation of 30 kilograms (66 pounds) per package, as specified in § 173.185(c)(1)(vi).

Q2. Can a single handling marking be used to indicate that both smaller lithium metal batteries and smaller lithium ion batteries are contained inside the same package?

A2. Yes. Based on the information and example handling marking that you have provided, it is the opinion of this Office that a single handling marking may be used to indicate that the package contains both lithium metal and lithium ion batteries. For transportation by ground or vessel, proper hazard communication includes the marking requirement found in § 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A). Specifically, § 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A) requires that the outer package be marked with an indication of the type of lithium cells or batteries contained in the package (i.e., whether the package contains lithium ion cells or batteries, lithium metal cells or batteries, or both types of lithium cells or batteries). This marking must reflect the hazardous materials contained in the package; if the package contains both lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, then the handling marking must indicate that both are present in the package. Similarly, a package containing only lithium ion batteries, or only lithium metal batteries, cannot be marked with an indication that both types of lithium batteries are present.

On November 23, 2015, PHMSA published the HM-260 final rule, "Hazardous Materials: Editorial Corrections and Clarifications (RRR)," which amended § 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A) to state: "An indication that the package contains ‘Lithium metal’ and/or ‘Lithium ion’ cells or batteries, as appropriate..." (see 80 FR 72917). In the regulatory text of § 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A) prior to the HM-260-related amendment, the use of the word "or" was not intended to prohibit smaller lithium ion and smaller lithium metal batteries from being shipped in the same package. The "or" was intended to ensure that the type(s) of lithium batteries inside the package are accurately indicated on the prescribed marking. Nevertheless, PHMSA made this amendment in HM-260 to improve clarity regarding the marking requirements.

Please also note that, in addition to the marking requirement found in § 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A), the marking requirements specified in §§ 173.185(c)(1)(iii) and 173.185(c)(1)(iv) might also apply.

I hope this answers your inquiry. If you need additional assistance, please contact this Office again.



Dirk Der Kinderen
Chief, Standards Development Branch
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.185(c)(1)(i), 173.185(c)(1)(ii), 173.21, 173.24(e)(4), 173.185(c)(1)(vi), 173.185(c)(3)(i)(A), 173.185(c)(1)(iii), 173.185(c)(1)(iv)

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries
173.21 Forbidden materials and packages
173.24 General requirements for packagings and packages